A few years ago I had the good fortune to meet a volunteer foster carer with SAFE (Saving Animals from Euthanasia) down in Bunbury. Bunbury is a large regional town in Western Australia, about 2 hours south of Perth.
This foster carer was an amazing person and she inspired me to think about what I do for my community. At that time, I did very little. I'd had a few attempts at doing volunteer work. I once helped out at a soup kitchen, but I had hot soup thrown on me by one of the homeless people (affected by sniffing glue) and I was too scared to do it again. I also tried dog walking for the RSPCA, but I had to give that up when I started to work full time. I’d thought about fostering cats or dogs, but with an elderly Labrador at home, I didn’t think introducing another animal into my home would be fair on her.
So, I figured why not use my photography ability to raise money? I decided to block out three months of my year (during winter which is a quiet time) and dedicate it to photographing 12 cats and 12 dogs for a fundraising calendar. It takes up about 350 hours of my time. Participants in the fundraising calendar pay a very small fee to be involved (this year it was $200). For this fee the participants receive a fine art portrait session with me, 5 images from the session and a copy of the calendar. I donate the entire fee to SAFE (Bunbury). I don’t earn a cent from the project. In fact, I actually use my own money to provide a copy of the calendar to every participant.
The calendars have been more and more successful over the past three years. The first year I raised only a few hundred dollars. Last year I raised $1500 and this year I’m on track to more than double that… so far I’ve raised nearly $5000 and the calendars haven’t even gone on sale yet!!
I love that I can use my talents, and what I am passionate about, to do something good for charity. Over the past 3 years I’ve gotten to know the team of people at SAFE (Bunbury) really well so I see how they use this money. They have become my friends and when I visit Bunbury, I try to catch up with them. The money I am raising is going towards making a huge difference in the lives of cats and dogs needing new homes. It also helps to reduce the unwanted cat population by contributing towards the costs involved in the sterilisation and microchipping of hundreds of cats.